Thursday, July 3, 2008

Discovery @ Macritchie Reservoir on 29 June 2008

Sixty Fifth Discovery Posting:

Update on 05 July 2008: Corrected ID Typo for sixth 'discovery', it's Branded Imperial NOT Banded Imperial, thanks to Commander for pointing this out to me. Thanks!

A long overdue posting as this is for an outing on last Saturday. Anyway, last Saturday, together with LK, RY, SY and ST, we went over to Macritchie reservoir for a short walk along the Prunus trail.

History of Macritchie Reservoir:
Before the early 19th century, most of the island was covered in primary forest. Between 1820 and 1870, a substantial portion of virgin forest was cleared to develop the island as an important trading post. Prior to this, many Chinese planters had also worked the land for timber and the cultivation of crops like gambier, pepper and rubber. By 1886, only 10% of the original forest cover remained.

MacRitchie Reservoir
, Singapore's first reservoir, was constructed in 1867, by a donation of S$13,000 by philanthropist Tan Kim Seng, as the first impounding reservoir in Singapore. It resulted from an increase demand for water in the mid-19th century, which grew beyond the capacity of ox-drawn water carts. In 1891, the reservoir was extended and the enlarged Impounding Reservoir was renamed as Thomson Road Reservoir in 1907. Then, in honour of the Municipal Engineer, James MacRitchie, who designed and built the reservoir, it was renamed again as MacRitchie Reservoir.

Side note:
A more detailed history of the place can be found here.

All right, enough of the history, let's look at the present by looking at what can we see there. Here's first 'discovery', a common acacia (pictures below).
A closer look (picture below)
Discovery Note:
1. The things which look like leaves are not leaves but actually more of a modified leaf stalk.
2. This modified leaf stalk has fewer stomata which enables it to prevent less water loss.
3. This plant has this adaptation as its origin country is from Australia where it is dryer compared to Singapore.
4. Another adaptation which this plant has is that it possesses nitrogen fixing bacteria, thus enabling it to grow on less fertile soil.

Another plant which I was introduced to for the first time is the silverback, second 'discovery' (picture below)
A look at the underside of its leave to understand why it's called the silverback (picture below)
Discovery Note:
1. This is a "typical" secondary forest species; these are generally the first to reclaim the abandoned plantations.
2. Hard wood is used for small objects. Whitish, tough and durable, and charcoal is made from it. 3. Leaves and roots are used for a decoction taken after childbirth and for stomach aches.
4. Pounded shoots are used as a poultice for scalds.
5. The fruit is edible and used in a decoction for treating gums.
6. The bark is used as a black dye, as well as for tanning fishing nets.

The next plant which we focused on was a plant which had hairy leaves, look at the picture below to have a look. By the way, this is third 'discovery', the koster curse (Clidemia hirta)
Discovery Note:
1. The fruits are eaten by native and exotic bird species and dispersed through the undergrowth of primary and secondary forests.

Fourth 'discovery' is what Tarzan use to get around the forest, liana! (picture below) Discovery Note:
1. They are the woody climbers of the rain forest.
2. They start out like any other sampling on the forest floor except that their growing tips make wide circles to search for potential support.
3. Unlike parasitic plants, lianas do not harm the trees, but merely rely on them for support in order to hitch a ride up above the canopy.
4. But if one tree which a liana is on for support falls, the liana might also pull the other trees which it has support on.
5. It is usually quite hard to spot the leaves of the liana as they are usually found above the canopy.
6. Besides Tarzan, animals use the liana as a bridge from tree to tree as a liana can 'spread' itself around several trees. This saves energy for them as they do not have to climb down a tree, travel the undergrowth of the forest and climb up another tree.

Fifth 'discovery' is the macaranga (picture below). By the way, the hand which you see is SY's. =P A look at the weird things which is on the stem of the plant (picture below). Read on to find what is it.Discovery Posting:
1. The plant produces food bodies rich in lipids, proteins and fats under their swollen maroon stipules.
2. These food bodies are a food source for ants, and besides that, the plant also has a hollow stem which can act as a shelter for ants. So it is not strange to find ants living on the plant.
3. In return for the provision of food and shelter, the ants guard the plant against any other plants which tries to grow near it by ‘destroying’ them.

And like many other forest trails, there were the presence of butterflies along the way, and sixth 'discovery' is the Branded Imperial butterfly (picture below). This is also my first more decent photo of this butterfly. =)Discovery Note:
1. You might notice that this butterfly has a strange looking extension at its hindwing.
2. This is actually like a mimic adaptation for staying alive.
3. This strange looking extension might look like a snake head to some of its predators, so its predators thinking that this is a snake might not attack this butterfly.

Well, basically this warps up this posting although we saw more things than what I've written.

Curious to find out more what you can see at this place?
Information for discoverers:
a) You can join the guided walk @ Prunus Trail conducted by Nparks volunteers on the 2nd Sunday of every month at 930am.
b) Meet at the entrance of Prunus Trail (50m after the canoe kiosk in the eastern side of the reservoir park) at 9.25am.
c) This trail is not hard to cover, so kids can also go! =)
d) Dates for 2008 from the Nparks website: 13 Jul, 10 Aug, 14 Sep, 12 Oct, 9 Nov, 14 Dec
Check the Nparks' website for more information, click here.

As I did my research for this blog entry, I came across this article written by Dr. Shawn Lum, president of NSS on Macritchie Reservoir.
In a nutshell, he writes about what values does Macritchie Reservoir has as a field trip destination and the ecology and plants there.
A really interesting article, I must say!
So click here to read the article.

1 comment:

Commander said...

Just to correct a little typo here. :)

Your sixth discovery Eooxylides tharis distanti, is known as the Branded Imperial. You left out an 'r' in Branded.